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I was Randy Cunningham's first RIO, and we flew together in training and for VF-96's 1970 Cruise to WestPac in USS America.

When we arrived on Yankee Station, our squadron was assigned a few "milk run" missions to get used to flying in SEA. One night we were supposed to land on the 2230 recovery, but the deck was fouled....bad....so they bingo'd our section (CO and his RIO, Randy Cunningham and myself) to Danang to refuel and return for the 2400 recovery.


On landing, Randy automatically deployed the drag chute. When we got to the refueling pits to hot refuel, the CO was Pissed....and over the squadron frequency, asked Randy to explain how the hell we were going to get that drag chute back to the ship.


CO then came up with idea to have the ground crew climb up and we'd stuff it in my lap. Great.....what if we had to eject!!!!!


Around 2330 as we were taxiing out to the runway, tower advised "Make immediate left turn on take off to avoid Charlie Fire".


Randy asked me over the ICS what "Charlie Fire" was....and I said I didn't know....but I'd heard of a Firebase Charlie, and maybe THAT was it....maybe they didn't want us to wake up those Marines that late at night.


Cleared for takeoff, Randy plugged in the burners, as we needed to burn fuel, lifted up maybe 25 ft., and saw some lights off the end of the runway. He said "why should those guys get to sleep when we were working so late", so continued straight down the runway in full burner.


A few seconds later all these flashes were zipping by the canopy. Randy said "Look at those funny flares....I wonder what they are".


Tower then came on the radio...."Pull up and Break left IMMEDIATELY...They're SHOOTING at you", then made some rude remarks about those "Navy types".


When we got back to the ship, the CO was REALLY pissed and gave us one hell of a chewing out....but...we did learn about "Charlie Fire".

Lynn Batterman


VF-96 1969-1971

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TIME/PLACE: 1972, nighttime, Udorn AB, Thailand

SITUATION: I was an RF-4C pilot assigned from the 14th Tac Recce Squadron, working in the Wing Command Post as the night-shift Duty Controller.


INCIDENT: A young F-4 pilot from a fighter squadron at the base called Maintenance Control after landing. A few minutes later, they called me and asked, "What the hell happened to that aircraft out on the taxiway? There's a tree stuck in the landing gear!"


Seems that the 2nd LT pilot of that plane decided to fly an unauthorized LORAN approach that was not approved at the time. The lieutenant thought better!


What he did is fly almost to the ground. He hit a concrete telephone pole with the keel of his plane! It "bounced" off the pole and flew through a tree! Miraculously, the LT added power just in the nick of time, and made it to the runway about a quarter a mile ahead!


FOLLOW-ON: The F-4 had to be Class-26'd. The keel was bent. The LT was grounded, but got off easy because he was on a combat tour.


One morning about four years later at Shaw AFB, SC, I walked into a classroom to welcome a new class of ANG students into training to fly the RF-4C. As I came to the podium, I scanned the faces in the classroom. Guess who was sitting in the front row, with his mouth wide open, and a white as a sheet! As I saw him I said, "I remember you*!" He uttered, "Please! Don't tell!"

Chuck Munroe

St. Louis


you can find these at http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/milita...remembertoo.htm

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You know, its funny that you posted these stories Eagle, I was just coming on to post a great story I read on the last flight of the F-8 Crusader. Its to big to copy and paste but its located here...http://www.vought.com/vspecial/html/last-flight.html and definately worth reading.

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